On Sunday October 16, Donbass field commander Arsen “Motorola” Pavlov was killed by a terrorist attack in the elevator of his apartment building in Donetsk. The streets of Donetsk were filled with tens of thousands of people wanting to say a last farewell to their hero, many now fearing that terror against the population will increase.
One of the most famous – and in the West infamous – leaders of the Donbass defenders, Arsen Pavlov, better known under his call sign “Motorola”, has been assassinated. According to the official information, an explosion took place in the elevator of the apartment building where he had been living with his family in the city of Donetsk, the capital of the break-away Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).
The funeral of Pavlov was attended by tens of thousands people who expressed their solidarity with the family of the terror victim and, at the same time, with the stance of their government towards Kiev.
The DPR authorities have already stated that the Ukrainian diversionary and prospecting group could have organized the assassination. A team of two killers are being suspected. The bomb was placed in the ceiling of the elevator. Pavlov, who was aware that Kiev authorities had put a two million dollar price on his had, usually wore a bulletproof vest and helmet. It appears however, that once he was in the elevator, he removed the helmet. He sustained severe injuries to his head and upper body from the explosion.
Pavlov and his family were however often seen moving around freely in Donetsk and without extensive protection.
Pavlov was awarded an honorable official funeral in Donetsk. Photo: FWM
There are reports that an explosion that took place in July could have been another attempt to liquidate Pavlov. It took place near the hospital where Pavlov was having treatment for one of his wounds at that time. However, Pavlov claimed that he could hardly have been the criminals’ main target in that attack.
Arsen Pavlov was one of the most exceptional and popular field commanders in the war in Donbass in 2014. He was one of the first to defend the territory when the defenders only consisted of ill-armed workers, mainly miners and fathers of families. Against them stood regular troops that Kiev sent to quell the protests against the coup that saw the elected president Viktor Yanukovych deposed – the majority in Donbass had voted for Yanukovych and didn’t recognise the new government of Ukraine.
Hated by the West, but beloved by the people in Donbass and the Russian world, he became one of the symbols of the fight against Western hegemony. While Western media see in Pavlov the blueprint of a “war criminal”, the non-Western world sees him as a “war hero”.
The Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Prime Minister Aleksander Zakharchenko, stated that the attack was a violation of the ceasefire in Donbass and promised retaliation.
Aleksander Zakharchenko, Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Photo: DONi
– So, as far as I understand, [the president of Ukraine, Petro] Poroshenko has violated a truce and declared a war against us. Be alert. Enough, we suffered much, we were promised much, had a long talk. Remember my words: you will pay a higher price one thousand times greater, than we did, according the DONi News Agency.
According to the Prime Minister, retaliation could come in the heart of Ukraine.
– And who committed this murder? Well I want to address the military personnel of Ukraine, security service of Ukraine, military intelligence service /…/ “dear friends, companions”, bastards, villains. Live and be afraid because the death for us is not just a simple challenge, it is a challenge to all of our Republic. All officers, lieutenant colonels, majors who act on our territory, all your agents, are beyond the law from now on. Not only here, but in Zhytomir, Kiev, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk.
He also said that it was the “honour and duty” of the republic to bring up the children of Pavlov and help his wife.
Ukrainian officials reacted quickly. The adviser to the Interior Minister of Ukraine, Zoryan Shkiryak, called the mourning people “mentally defective” and the political scientist Taras Berezovets working for Bankovaya stated that “we [Ukrainians] cannot afford living with these creatures in one country”.
The DPR Minister of Foreign Affairs Natalya Nikonorova pointed out some inconsistencies in those comments:
Natalya Nikonorova, DPR Minister of Foreign Affairs. Photo: DONi
– We will send an official letter to our coordinators at the Minsk negotiations in which we will raise the issue of the attitude of the Ukrainian authorities’ representatives towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict. On the one hand, they declare aspiration to keep the integrity of Ukraine, and on the other call citizens living in Donetsk every name in the book. If we are not satisfied with the explanations, we are ready to consider the possibility of terminating the negotiations, said Nikonorova.
Ukrainian and Western media are pointing their fingers towards Russia and claims that the Russian security service FSB was the likely culprit behind the attack. The motive is supposed to be that Pavlov got too popular and thus a power factor. However, our sources in DPR state that Pavlov didn’t have any political plans and usually didn’t comment on politics.
The assassination of Pavlov can be considered as a new escalation between Ukraine and Donetsk. Already in the hot phase of the war in 2014, Ukrainian forces and their foreign mercenary formations such as “Azov” were terrorizing the local population in Donbass, including artillery shelling of residential areas. Many civilians now fear an escalation of hostilities in the form of terror and assassinations. If Kiev seriously considers transforming the war into a form of state terrorism against members of the defence forces of the two Donbass republics, the chances of a real peace in Eastern Europe are less than low, they argue.